Sci-Fi November: Review: Defiance by Lucas Bale

defianceAbout Defiance

The darkness in the human heart is infinite.

At a time when power means everything, the ultimate power, the imperium, rests with the Consulate Magistratus. The murder of a man in the lowest caste may be inconsequential, but one man, one of the Caesteri lawmen who still believes in justice, refuses to ignore it.

The woman he hunts is violent and unstable, and haunted by her own callous ghosts. She will drag him to the furthest reaches of space, where the abyss which awaits them hides an unspeakable truth.

When faced with their own mortality, there is no limit to what human beings will do to protect themselves, their family, their property. The human mind changes when exposed to relentless horror. It becomes dehumanised. The grotesque becomes mundane.There is no pity, no remorse – only instinct. An instinct which cannot be controlled.

The imperium belongs only to those who are strong enough to wield it.

The war to control humanity's future is about to begin…

Defiance is the second book in the acclaimed Beyond the Wall series, an epic hard science-fiction space opera about the future of humanity and the discovery of the truth of its past.

About the Author

Lucas Bale writes the sort of intense, gripping science-fiction thrillers which make you miss your train. Stories which dig into what makes us human and scrape at the darkness which hides inside every one of us.

His debut novel, THE HERETIC, is the gateway to the BEYOND THE WALL series, an epic hard science-fiction space opera about the future of humanity and the discovery of the truth of its past.

He wasn’t always a writer. He was a criminal lawyer for fifteen years before he discovered crime doesn’t pay and turned to something which actually pays even less. No one ever said he was smart, but at least he’s happy. He blushes when people mention him in the same sentence as Iain M. Banks or George R. R. Martin, bless him.

If you’d like to hear about new releases before everyone else, get advance review copies of those new releases and every short story he ever writes for free then subscribe to INSIDE, his semi-regular newsletter, here:

If twitter is your thing, you’ll find him at @balespen

My Thoughts

(This review is based on an advanced reader's copy provided to me by the author.)

I greatly enjoyed Lucas Bale's The Heretic when it released earlier this year, finding it to be the beginning of an ambitious science-fiction series with a heck of a lot of promise. Book Two in his Beyond The Wall series, Defiance, struck me as even better in nearly every way.

There is a lot of mystery surrounding the narrative that propels the book's central characters into action. Starting off with a murder and the hunt for a fugitive, the story expands on the mythology introduced in The Heretic and the scope of the Imperium's domain and the power of the Magistratus. We've got murder, a fugitive on the run, political chicanery, a lost spaceship, and more. While not a direct continuation of The Heretic, although there are references made to the events that occurred in that book, Defiance is a bit more like a necessary side-journey.

Bale's series is what he calls 'series episodic.' There's a large, overarching story connecting the two works, although the characters are different and separated by the vast reaches of space. They inhabit the same universe and live under the same threatening weight of the Imperium's fist. With new characters comes a new locale, as well, and the world of Jieshou feels vastly different than The Heretic's Herse. The central characters of Weaver, a sort-of policeman, and the fugitive, Natasha, whom he spends the book hunting, are new faces to the expanding cast and take center stage this time around. Through their eyes, we get to familiarize ourselves with the criminal underworld of Jieshou's Bazaar, and find Weaver up against some significant odds.

I felt that the characterizations were stronger, and the threats they faced to be more immediate and more prevalent. Weaver has a terrific bit of inner conflict, often arguing with himself over the merits of obeying orders versus following a more morally correct path. Natasha, too, is an intriguing sort and seems to possess a rare quality that allows her to navigate through the wormholes connecting the empire, and to pass through the farther reaches of the Imperium's domain and beyond The Wall, a section of uncharted and uninhabited space. Or is it? Hmmm...

As Bale produces these novels to be part of a larger whole, we're left with one heck of a cliffhanger. Most of the mysteries introduced along the way are resolved, but plenty more gets teased in order to set up Book Three.

The Beyond The Wall series is shaping up to be a terrific showcase for Bale's talents with plenty of future-past mythology and an expanding scope that is starting to feel as large as the universe itself. Recommended.

buy Defiance at Amazon

Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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